01 Jun What is Sciatica
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body which starts in the lower spine, passes through the buttocks, back of the thighs and ends in the feet. The primary function of this nerve is to connect the feet and leg muscles to the spinal cord. Irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve results in a lumbar radicular pain known as sciatica. Sciatica symptoms often manifests as a pain occurring in the buttocks, legs and feet.
The symptoms of sciatica may vary from patient to patient . Often it can occur sporadically or be persistent over a long period of time. The origin of the pain is dependent on which part of the sciatic nerve is affected.
Low back pain also presents with sciatica. Many individuals often confuse experiencing only back pain for sciatica.
The most common symptoms include:
Pain: A burning, shooting, or stabbing pain that occurs in the thigh, leg and foot. Which can be aggravated by simple movements such as bending forward.
Pins and needles: A tingling sensation and numbness are commonly felt at the back of the leg.
Weakness: Walking and lifting the foot may become difficult because the leg or foot becoming heavy, weak or unbalanced.
Patients may notice that these symptoms get worse when laughing, sneezing or coughing, sitting down for a long time or even walking for an extended period.
Causes of sciatica is due to damage or injury to the sciatic nerve in the lumbar region (lower back).
The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated or slipped disc. Which can be caused by incorrectly lifting heavy objects, accidents or trauma, being overweight, pregnancy and childbirth (to name a few). When a herniated disc occurs the soft gel like substance inside an intervertebral disc leaks out through a crack in its hard fibrous casing, which then compresses the sciatic nerve causing the above-mentioned symptoms.
Other causes of sciatica include:
An injury or infection in the spine.
Spondylolisthesis: when a vertebrae in the lower spine, slips out of place, eventually compressing the sciatic nerve.
Spinal stenosis: the narrowing of the spinal canal towards the base of the spine.
Degeneration of the lumbar vertebrae in the lower spine, when abnormal bone growths next to the sciatic nerve occur, causing it to become compressed or irritated.
Not all causes of sciatica can be prevented, but the following tips can help to protect the lower back and reduce the risk of further injury.
- Exercise to strengthen the spinal and abdominal muscles. Pilates and yoga are great ways to strengthen and improve the stability of the spine and core.
- Following the correct lifting techniques: bending from the hips and knees in a squatting position to lift heavy objects, instead of bending from the back. Keeping the object close to your body and using the abdominal muscles when straightening the legs to stand up. Avoid twisting the back or lifting above the height of the shoulders.
- Always maintain the correct posture.
Osteopaths are able to diagnose the causes of sciatic pain and offer potential treatment. With the use of various hands-on techniques osteopathy can be used to help relieve sciatica symptoms. Osteopaths may be able to reduce the pressure surrounding the sciatic nerve, improve the blood flow and circulation to the affected area, recuperate the function and mobility of the body by stretching and releasing tight muscles. Physical therapy can also be used to reduce pain and improve the natural healing responses of the body.
Here at OsteoVision our team is highly trained and specialised in treating back pain. Each patients’ treatment plan is unique and specific depending on your diagnosis, age, and fitness level. Contact us to discuss your symptoms and a member of our team will be there to assist you.
call: 03303 904 300
you may also book an appointment online at www.osteovision.life
Elliott-Hutton, B., n.d. The ultimate guide to Sciatica or Sciatic pain, symptoms & causes. [online] bodytonic clinic. Available at: <https://bodytonicclinic.co.uk/sciatica-sciatic-pain/> [Accessed 10 June 2021].
G, O., 2018. Sciatica Explained – The Thornbury Clinic. [online] The Thornbury Clinic. Available at: <https://thethornburyclinic.co.uk/blog/sciatica-explained/> [Accessed 10 June 2021].
M, F., 2019. What Is Sciatica | What You Need to Know | Actesso. [online] Actesso Medical Supports. Available at: <https://actesso.co.uk/blog/sciatica-what-you-need-to-know/> [Accessed 10 June 2021].